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The Coast Guard’s Nationwide Automatic Identification System enhances maritime domain awareness with a focus on improving security, navigational safety, search and rescue, and environmental protection services. NAIS is based on the Automatic Identification System, a technology sanctioned by the International Maritime Organization as a global standard for ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship communications. NAIS uses digital VHF wave forms to continually transmit and receive voiceless data.

Why this program?

The NAIS program was initiated in response to the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002. NAIS enhances maritime domain awareness with a focus on improving security, navigational safety, search and rescue, and environmental protection services.

The system combines AIS data — such as vessel location, source and speed — with other government information and sensor data to form a holistic view of maritime vessel traffic near the continental U.S. and its territorial waters.

Informed by a comprehensive view of traffic on the nation’s waterways, decision makers are better positioned to respond to safety and security risks. NAIS improves the safety of vessels and ports through collision avoidance and strengthens national security through detection, identification and classification of potential threats while they are still offshore.

How is the program implemented?

The NAIS program is implemented in increments. Implementing NAIS in increments will help to address technical, logistical and budgetary risks that would be more difficult to manage in a single step approach.

  • Increment 1: The shore-based capability to receive AIS messages within the nation’s 58 major ports and 11 most critical coastal areas is implemented by using existing government infrastructure and meeting cost and performance requirements.
  • Increment 2: Transceiver capability, transmitting data out to 24 nautical miles and receiving data from out to 50 nautical miles is implemented. Permanent transceivers combine with satellite coverage to observe traffic up to 2,000 miles from the coast.